Archbishop Welby voices concern over potential move of British embassy to Jerusalem

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, on a visit to Jerusalem in 2017 (Dušan Vranić - AP)

Joe Middleton

The Guardian  /  October 8, 2022

Archbishop of Canterbury joins others worried about impact Tel Aviv switch could have on Palestinian peace talks.

The archbishop of Canterbury has expressed concern about the potential for the British embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The UK prime minister, Liz Truss, told her Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid at the United Nations summit in New York last month that she was considering the relocation.

If the embassy was to be moved it would follow in the footsteps of Donald Trump’s controversial decision to shift the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a move that prompted international condemnation and protests.

Justin Welby is concerned about the possible implications of such a change before a negotiated settlement has been reached between Israel and the Palestinians.

The UK has long maintained its Israel embassy in Tel Aviv despite Israel designating Jerusalem as its capital.

In a statement to Jewish News on Friday, a spokesperson for Welby said: “The archbishop is concerned about the potential impact of moving the British embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before a negotiated settlement between Palestinians and Israelis has been reached.

“He is in touch with Christian leaders in the Holy Land and continues to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

A Downing Street spokeswoman previously said Truss had informed Lapid “about her review of the current location of the British embassy in Israel”, at the UN summit in September.

Truss had also said she understands the “importance and sensitivity” over its location.

Some Arab diplomats have urged Truss not to go ahead with the move and said it could potentially jeopardize a free trade deal between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council that was due to be completed this year.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have also voiced their concerns about the review, with the latter’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Layla Moran, warning against a “provocation”.

Joe Middleton is a freelance journalist